Friday, July 22, 2011

Kscope 11 Opening Session: Behind the Scenes

Frankly, most opening sessions at software conferences, with a few exceptions, are pretty forgettable.  I will never forget the Kscope11 opening session.  This is my backstage story.

The ODTUG Board of Directors, myself included, had no idea what we were getting into when Edward Roske was named the Conference Chairman.  I knew Edward had a flair for the dramatic; does anyone else remember the Solutions session from his company that was structured as a musical?   So, what did Edward have in mind for us?  Well, instead of announcing the location of Kscope12 with a slide or two, Edward wrote a 'screenplay' spoofing reality shows starring, you guessed it, the ODTUG Board of Directors!  Yes, we all had plenty of opportunities of make fools of ourselves in public!   As we were so close to LA, we had a professional film crew put together these spoofs!  We filmed all of these videos over about a 7 hour stretch on Saturday, one day before the conference started.   I was in the first four of the videos.  The first reality show?  Survivor!

As people were dismissed from each reality show, they were introduced as the next speaker.  Edward was dismissed in Survivor, via unanimous vote no less, and went on stage to welcome attendees to the conference.  Next up?  American Idol.  Keep in mind as you watch this video that we all selected our own songs and tried to make them very funny.  Further, the panel, comprised of interRel employees Terrance Walker and Danielle White, joined by ODTUG Board Member Mark Rittman (who played a spot-on Simon Cowell), had no idea what songs we were planning to sing, so you get to see their real reactions.

I picked the my song, 'Thank God I'm a Country Boy', as I thought it would crack up the panel, especially if I dressed up in some nice threads for the gig.  Actually, I did grow up on a farm in Michigan, so I really am a bit of a country boy..  Karen Cannell, the ODTUG Journal editor, cracked me up with her song.  She had actually never heard the song before and had to learn it out in the hall just before her performance.   Trivia note: Karen is wearing my Michigan hat that I got a the 2008 Citrus Bowl when my Michigan Wolverines beat the Florida Gators.

Next up was Big Brother.  We filmed all of these videos on Saturday afternoon and I was exhausted after the board meeting all day on Friday and the Saturday Community Service Project (where I restored 3 foosball tables at a Boys and Girls Club).  I was actually sleeping on the floor during portions of filming of this spoof.

There was a scene cut from Big Brother due to the lack of time.  I was supposed to do a 'surprised coming out of the shower scene' as they feature on Big Brother.  Unfortunately, due to my utter exhaustion, I didn't think of a really funny ending for the next spoof, The Bachelorette., until the next day.  More on that after the video.

Yes, Cameron and I, the EPM guys, both met our demise in The Bachelorette  We thought Danielle would certainly give us a rose as she is also a good EPM citizen, but we were sadly mistaken.   By the way, the drama after the dismissal, with Cameron refusing the hug and me having to give her an 'uncomfortably long' hug were both late script changes, but they were actually planned.  Of course, I didn't mind doing my part for ODTUG.     

OK, back to the cut Big Brother scene..  I woke up the next morning and realized we had missed an opportunity for a big laugh..  My thought is that the shower scene should be at the end of 'The Bachelorette' and after I had been dismissed.  I would be surprised coming out of the shower and would exit stage left while the camera stay focused on the shower door.  After about 5 or 6 seconds, Danielle would peek out, look both ways and then sneak away..  I think it would have been a huge laugh!

Cameron and I were then introduced and our job, on-stage, was to introduce the keynote speaker, Joey Asher.  Joey is an author and the founder of a company called SpeechWorks that helps companies communicate better.  The thing is, we introduced a fake version of Joey; it was actually geek comedian Don McMillen.  Don was extremely funny.  Here is a video posted to YouTube by someone in the audience.

After Don McMillen and the real Joey Asher spoke, the next spoof was 'So You Think You Can Dance'.  Board Members David Schleis and Month Latiolais absolutely cracked me up in this video which, by the way, I didn't see until just before the opening session.

Finally, the last spoof was 'The Amazing Race'.  Most of the race was held on Segway's through the sidewalks of Long Beach.  Actually, the entire ODTUG Board did a Segway tour of the facilities on the Thursday before the conference.  It was fun and only a couple of us fell off our Segway during the tour (Hello Edward and Fred).

The race ended on-stage with ODTUG President Mike Riley edging out Board Member John King by a nose.  Mike then had the honor of announcing that KScope12 is coming to San Antonio, Texas!  Next year, we will be at the JW Marriott Hill Country which features 2 TPC golf courses, a spa, an on-site 6 acre waterpark and an on-site, 100-acre nature preserve.  Plan to bring your family to enjoy the facilities while you learn the latest from the experts in the Essbase, Planning, HFM, OBIEE, APEX, PL/SQL, Database Development and Fusion Middleware.

The Kscope12 website is now open.  You can register for the conference, book a room, or even submit an abstract to be a speaker at

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Kscope11 Lunch and Learn Session - EPM

Here is a link to the EPM Lunch and Learn session which was a panel discussion with a number of us Oracle ACE Directors.  This was one of my favorite sessions of the week though I am bias as I am on the panel.  I was so exhausted by this time of the week, I was just hoping I could put together my sentences without stumbling or degrading into gibberish.

One of my favorite sections of this session was my debate with OBIEE expert, fellow Oracle ACE Director and fellow ODTUG Board of Directors member Mark Rittman.  The debate starts somewhere around the 22:30 mark and, though Mark makes some good points about OBIEE and Essbase and OBIEE itself has some magic in flattening Essbase so data can be mixed/matched with relational data in a SQL query, I stand by my contention that Oracle doesn't get the magic that users see in Excel when they retrieve data from Essbase.

By the way, Mark and I get along quite well despite our debates over technology.

In any case, here is a link to the video:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Kscope11 Hyperion Midnight Madness

I can't believe it has already been a couple of weeks since Kscope11; time just flies when you are having fun.  In my case, I managed to get a couple of days of summer skiing in at Mammoth Mountain before heading home to the heat of Alabama.  Since that time, I have been heads down catching up (and working hard on Dodeca 6).  I need to make a few posts to summarize some of the fun things that happened at Kscope11 and, within a few days, to post my slides/sample code from my Java API session.

First, I thought I would talk about one of the unique networking events we have at Kscope, the annual Midnight Madness networking event.  For the past couple of years, this event has featured a game show format and this year, it was Family Feud.   Fellow Oracle ACE Director Glenn Schwartzberg acted as the master of ceremonies and played brilliantly the Richard Dawson game show host character.  The funniest thing happened on one of the questions where Glenn totally lost it and literally couldn't get the words out because he was laughing so hard..

Another very funny thing happened during Family Feud.   The survey question was "Name an Oracle ACE or Oracle ACE Director in the EPM/BI Space".  Yes, I know, boring, right?  Guess who was the top answer?  Book author/Kscope Conference Chairman Edward Roske?  Nope.  He finished second to yours truly..  By the way, the screenshot below was sent to me by Edward..

So, in summary, my career is now officially a trivia answer!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Strange ASO Update Behavior

We recently had a customer report an issue when writing back to an ASO database through Dodeca.  The issue involved writing back #Missing to cells that previously had a value.  Whenever the data was retrieved, the cell did not have a missing value, but rather the cell returned 0.   They also reported that updating the same cells using the classic Excel add-in behaved exactly the same way.   As it misbehaved in the classic add-in as well, we recommended to the customer that they file a service request with Oracle.

Today we heard the result from Oracle Tech Support:

“This is the expected behavior when you load #Missing cells through Excel Add-In or SmartView into an ASO application. The load operations through Excel Add-In loads data into an incremental slice using override mode. In this mode when you load #Missing values into cells that already have a non-missing value, they will be replaced with 0 values.“

Not many companies are writing back to ASO at this time and I wasn't yet aware of this behavior, but now we now another one of the limitations of ASO writeback.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

ODTUG Hyperion SIG Nominations Close Today

If you are interested in building the Hyperion user community, the ODTUG Hyperion Special Interest Group is a great place to start.  The Hyperion SIG Board did some great work over the past year to create the great KScope conference last week in Long Beach and will, I am sure, work hard to create an even better conference next June in San Antonio, TX.  Nominations are open through tomorrow (sorry for the late notice).  This is the info posted on Network 54 about a month ago:

The ODTUG Hyperion SIG is currently seeking nominations for its board. There are three (3) open seats. 1 of these seats can be filled by a vendor/partner.

The board’s responsibilities are:

  • Enable communication with Oracle Corp on direction and strategy
  • Share information and experiences among Oracle Hyperion developers and database administrators
  • Facilitate training and education among the Oracle Hyperion developers and database administrators (DBAs)
  • Provide representation for the Hyperion SIG at Kaleidoscope and Oracle Open World
  • Develop the Hyperion tracks at Kaleidoscope
  • Maintain Hyperion SIG’s web page on with relevant and informative content to the development community

Board member requirements include: current paid member of ODTUG; regular participation in board conference calls; coordinating/contributing to meetings and conferences including ODTUG Kaleidoscope and Oracle Open World.

As a board member, one needs to support and promote the Hyperion SIG goals by taking an enthusiastic role in the activities that help continually provide value to the technical community. Giving a presentation at ODTUG’s annual conferences, assisting with membership and awareness campaigns, mentoring new members and encouraging other developers/DBAs to participate in the Hyperion SIG are just a few ways that board members can display leadership and contribute to the SIG's growth and success.

If you would like to help shape the future direction of the Hyperion SIG by joining the board, please submit the following information to

Phone Number
Head Shot (Photo)
Four to five sentence bio

Please be aware of the following rules/guidelines:
  • Candidates must be a current paid member of the Oracle Development Tools Users Group (ODTUG).
  • Elections are for individual volunteers, not the companies that employ them. The person elected will be a board member. It is recommended that individuals seek approval to run before submission as a candidate.
  • Board will consist of nine members with no more than 50% from employees of Oracle Vendors (50% vendor rule).
  • A board member’s term will last three years. At the end of their term, former members may choose to run for re-election after one year.
  • On any given year, there will be 3 open positions on the board.
  • If positions become open on the board during the year, board members may appoint members at their discretion as long as it does not violate the 50% vendor rule.
  • Nominations will be open now until July 8th.
  • Voting will be from July 11-25th on the ODTUG website.
  • Results will be published July 29th.
Volunteer and get involved!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Essbase Java API - Group Names When Using Shared Services

One of our Dodeca customers had a question about support for Essbase group names when using Shared Services security.  We did a bit of testing and found some interesting results to share.

One of the configuration settings in Dodeca allows Dodeca administrators to limit the sets of views/reports a user can see based on their assigned roles.   The roles can be sourced from a number of places including the Essbase group names.  That being said, with the advent of Shared Services, there is some confusion with the availability, to the Essbase Java API, of certain pieces of security information.  Dodeca uses the following Essbase Java API code to get the group names:

// get the olap user object
IEssOlapUser user = olapServer.getOlapUser(username);

// get the groups for the user
IEssIterator groups = user.getGroups();

// loop the groups
for (int i = 0; i < groups.getCount(); i++) {
  // get the group
  IEssOlapGroup group = (IEssOlapGroup)groups.getAt(i);

  // serialization code removed...

In testing this code in 11.1.2, we found that the group names are returned, but also have an '@' sign and the directory appended as well.  Of course, Dodeca communicates via web services, so the XML stream we saw coming out of Dodeca looked like this:

So, the information is available to the Essbase Java API with the caveat that the group name is postpended with the directory (which makes sense).